In an unlikely turn of events, Ryan Reynolds and Paul McCartney are both nominees to become the next chief of Ontario’s Walpole Island First Nation.
As CBC News reports, the “Deadpool” star and the legendary rocker both wound up on the ballot to be chief of Walpole Island First Nation, a reservation situated on an island in southwestern Ontario that borders Michigan.
The pair qualified for nomination due to a loophole within an law from the 1800s.
The Indian Act states that a non-indigenous person can be elected as a First Nations chief. However, James Jenkins, Walpole Island’s director of operations, says that’s actually quite rare. While he believes there may have been other cases where a non-member of an indigenous community in Canada has been on the ballot, he can’t recall any non-indigenous people ever being elected chief.
The one exception, he noted, was Walpole Island’s first election in 1868, when a government bureaucrat was elected chief.
According to Jenkins, the Indian Act contains little in the way of requirements for eligibility in the electoral process, allowing pretty much anyone to be nominated.
While the intent behind nominating the celebrities is unclear, it may be to draw attention to Walpole Island First Nations’ pursuit of its own constitution, which would circumvent the Indian Act and allow better eligibility requirements to be put in place for future elections.
If both remain on the ballot and one of them is declared the winner at the Sept. 19 election, the new chief will have the option of either resigning or taking on the role.
According to Jenkins, feelings toward the nominations within the community are mixed.
“Some people are tickled by it and others probably feel like it may impact the sanctity of the electoral process,” he said. “Many people do find the electoral process a very important component of governance in the First Nation, so we’re trying to do our best to support the membership.”
Reynolds and McCartney are among 12 nominees for chief.